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How to throw a successful going away party

Losing a friend to another city can be quite a sad event. Even though one of you moving away doesn’t signify the end of the friendship, it does signify a change. However, there is a silver lining – you are due one final blowout together. A move is usually quite a stressful time that requires a lot of attention. Your friend might not be in the most eager of moods to throw a going-away party themselves. (They will, after all, have to throw a housewarming party soon.)This is where you come in. You can take it upon yourself to throw a going-away party your friend will never forget.

How to throw a successful going away party

The gift

While the party itself could be present enough, you may want to gift your friend with something to remember you by. When it comes to a going-away party, you do not want to give something just to give it. Moving provides people with a chance to shed a lot of their unnecessary belongings. Your friend is probably trying not to go overboard when packing. Try to be sensitive to this when choosing your gift. One of the things you can do is ask them if there is anything they need or want for their new home. Another way to go would be to gift them something personal. For example, if your friend is leaving Florida for good, a nice frame with a picture of the two of you on your favorite beach will be quite enough. Don’t forget to write a note on the back!

Two sets of hands holding a wrapped gift    

Picking a venue

A going-away party is usually a casual affair. It’s the middle or end of your friend’s moving preparations. You want to keep it as low-effort as possible on their part. Firstly, their own home is out of the question unless they specifically ask for it. It will probably be a mess or entirely moved out, so it having the party there wouldn’t do. You also don’t need to book a fancy restaurant or find a special venue. The whole point of the party is for your friend to see some of their favorite people and be able to say easy goodbyes to everyone. Your home would be a great choice for a venue. If you want to make it a surprise party, have it at another friend’s house where they wouldn’t expect it. This will keep your friend off the scent.

The guest list

If the party is a surprise, the guest list can be quite tricky as you can end up missing some people. Otherwise, ask your friend who they would like to invite and grab their contact information from them. Send out an invitation or create a text message chain for the whole group. It will make it easier for everyone to RSVP. You can even have friends who are away joining the party online at some point.

The theme

One of the best going away party ideas is to choose a theme for it. Besides being fun, it will also make it easier to decide on the decorations and in some cases even music and the food. Depending on where your friend is moving, you can always pick that city, state or country as a theme. Another popular theme for a going away party is ‘Bon Voyage’. You would have a sign in big block letters and decorate the rest with travel-related decorations like paper airplanes or napkins with maps. Another simple way to have a theme is to choose a color scheme and stick to it with the decorations. Finally, you can even decide to skip the theme altogether. The focus of this party is to see and spend time with your friend’s favorite people, so the party itself should be quite laid back.

a group of colorful balloons


When it comes to food, there are so many popular and easygoing away party ideas. One of them is to keep the focus on the guest of honor. You can do this by stocking the kitchen with their favorite foods and drinks. You can give an easy nod to your buddy by serving their favorite cocktail or dessert. As you are probably going for a relaxed feel, you don’t even have to put too much thought into the food and simply order pizza for everyone once dinner time comes. Another way to go about it is to have a potluck. Whatever you decide, make sure you are clear about it in your invitations. Let your guests know what they can expect.

a box of pizza sitting on top of a table

Party games

One of the main ways to throw a successful going away party is to give it some structure to make it memorable. Party games are a great way to do that. Some of them can be quite specific to the situation you all are in. You don’t exactly have to have an official roast of your friend, but it might be a good idea to offer people an opportunity to say a few words in lieu of a toast. You can ask them to go around in a circle and share their favorite memories.

Another way you could go about this is to have everyone write down something they like or admire about your friend when they first come to the party. Later on, you can have the guest of honor read through the messages and try to guess who wrote what. Another great party idea would be to designate a corner of your house as a photo booth where guests could take the opportunity to take a photo with your friend. If you have a Polaroid camera, you could stack up all the photos in a photo album for your friend to take with them as a party favor.

A toast

a person cutting food on a table

The main way to throw a going-away party your friend will never forget is to put some thought into it. Your toast at one point in the night will just be a cherry on top. It doesn’t have to be too long (and try not to make it too sad), but it should reflect on the time your friend has spent in your area and why you are going to miss them. Make sure to include some I-wish-you-wells for their forthcoming move.

But remember, taking it upon yourself to organize this event will free your friend to worry about the rest of their move. They will surely be grateful to you for it and enjoy getting to spend another night surrounded by their loved ones in your city. No matter what you choose to do, from elaborate event-planning to a simple gathering around a couple of boxes of pizza, your friend won’t forget it any time soon.